Liability When People Are Injured By Holes In The Ground
Thankfully, rarely in real life are there giant holes in the ground that you are going to walk into and disappear into the ground. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that smaller holes can be everywhere, and those small holes can be catastrophic to you and your body, if you were to accidentally step into one.
Why Are Holes Left Open?
There are a number of reasons why holes can be left open for people to walk into. Landscapers can pull out trees or shrubbery, leaving holes where the roots once were. Construction may remove posts or poles, or may have to dig into the ground through a hole. Deterioration in cement or pavement can create holes.
Why So Dangerous?
What makes these holes so dangerous is the way our body walks. When we walk normally, our entire body braces for the impact of the ground subconsciously. You may not even know it or do it consciously, but your back, knee, ankle and foot, all are prepared for the impact of the ground beneath them on every step.
But when the ground isn’t where it’s supposed to be, when it’s lower because of a hole, the musculature and structure of your body are not ready for that impact. Additionally, the gravity of your body or leg going farther than it’s supposed to be, can completely throw off the delicate systems of our bodies that are designed to absorb the impact of a normal step.
The ramifications can go up our entire bodies—not just the ankle, but all the way up to the lower back and the spine.
Laws Regulating Holes in the Ground
By law, any hole in the ground that is more than 2 feet deep, or more than 2 feet wide, has to have some sort of barrier that would keep someone from stepping into the hole. Even if the hole is smaller than this, basic notions of due care will require that a landowner place some sort of warning, alerting walkers that there is a hole in the ground.
Someone who is injured by a hole in the ground can recover up to twice their damages. This is a rarity in personal injury law—almost never does the law allow a victim to recover a multiple of the actual damages sustained, the way a victim of stepping in a hole can do.
A landowner can allege that the hole was open and could have been observed. But that won’t take away the property owner’s duty to keep a barrier around holes, or to warn people of a hole that they could step into.
Who Is Liable?
Victims of holes in the ground may need to show who actually caused thehole, and who is responsible. There may be multiple parties—for example, fio a property owner hires a landscaper who leaves a gaping hole, both of them may point the finger at each other. In the end, both can be held liable.
Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law for help if you are injured on someone else’s property. Contact us today with your questions.